BERRY DANISH/ Summer Dessert

Looking for a fabulous summer dessert? Or a patriotic red, white and blue way to celebrate Memorial Day or Independence Day? No need to sacrifice calories or spend hours in the kitchen. You can whip up this dessert quickly and it makes a fabulous impression. Your guests will delight in this healthy and refreshing dessert guilt-free. Ok, there may be a little guilt with the whipped cream. This recipe is borrowed from my cousin, a former chef and restaurateur. Besides being a stupendous cook, Will serves the best desserts!

Phyllo Puff Pastry Sheets
Raspberries, washed
Blueberries, washed
White Sugar
Whipped Cream
Confectioner's Sugar

Cut puff pastry into 3" x 3" squares. Sprinkle with white sugar. Bake according to box directions. Let cool.
To assemble, place one square of puff pastry onto plate. Fill with raspberries and blueberries.
Add another square of puff pastry atop berries. Adorn plate with more raspberries and blueberries.
Sprinkle with Confectioner's Sugar. Top with whipped cream. 


Hint:To make blueberries and raspberries last toss out any rotten ones and rinse the berries in a colander. Then, store them in the refrigerator in the colander for adequate air-flow. If you don’t have space in your refrigerator for a colander trim off the lid of the original plastic container, place a layer of paper towel in the bottom to soak up any excess water, add the berries and close the lid. The berries usually keep for at least two weeks. 




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PLANE COOKIES/ Planes, Jets & Angels

In my childhood home the view from my bedroom window was airplanes. There was not a 707 in the backyard like John Travolta. Oh, didn't we wish! There was a runway behind our house and airplanes and jets took off and landed a mere 300 yards from our home. We lived in a midsize city, slightly off the main drag and our house faced an airport. Back then it was a regional airport and now an international airport. We could watch planes take off all day long if we wanted to but it was no big deal since it was an everyday and all day occurrence. The jets of Eastern, Allegheny, United and American Airlines shared the runway with the snazzy corporate jets of Bethlehem Steel. Back then the planes were much louder than today's whisper jets and sometimes the rumble of the engines made dishes in the cupboard rattle. At the dinner table, my Dad who worked in the aviation division of BS could identify the planes by the sound of the engine during taxiing.

Fast forward about thirty years. Shortly after moving to Northern Virginia, sitting on the deck I looked up and saw planes overhead on their final approach to Dulles Airport, a mere hop, skip and jump away. I remember feeling like I was back home. At certain times of the day the planes land one after another. Even years later the sound of a plane flying overhead (one is flying over just now) stirs memories of the old neighborhood. During the warm weather months it's a ritual most evenings as my husband and I sit on the deck with a glass of wine and watch the planes fly across the stunning sunsets in the western sky.

These plane cookies were made for rising kindergarteners. With the Naval Academy in our neighboring State of Maryland situated on the Chesapeake Bay, I was inspired by the Navy's acrobatic flying squadron, the Blue Angels. Check out these amazing videos and ride in a F-18 Hornet.

Plane Cookies
Plane Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Bright Blue with AmeriColor Electric Blue and AmeriColor Royal Blue
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Gold with AmeriColor Lemon Yellow and Wilton Gold
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2

Outline cookie with #2 tip in blue icing
Flood cookie with blue icing. Let sit 30 minutes.

Pipe detail on plane wings and tail with #2 tip in gold icing.
Pipe "N" on plane. 

Let dry overnight.






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DEVILS FOOD CAKE/ I'm Confessin'

I have a confession to make … cookies are not my favorite dessert. Gasp! There, I said it. For my sweet tooth there is nothing like a homemade layer cake. The combination of cake and frosting make it a standout. My love for cake whether vanilla or chocolate is equal; the same goes for frosting. My eldest grand niece is a vanilla girl and my eldest grand nephew is a true purest and loves cake in its simplest form … just the cake, no frosting. It amazes me because isn't frosting the best part? Tell me your favorite cake and frosting flavors in a comment section below?

Even with my love of cake, I rarely bake one. I recently purchased three 7-inch cake pans which makes the perfect size cake for just the two of us. This was the first time using my new cake pans. I tried to achieve a smooth finish on the frosting and it turned out pretty good but not the perfect smoothness I was going for. This cake was frosted with my Favorite Buttercream and tastes great but leaves a textured finish. In a future post I tweak this buttercream recipe in search of a creamy finish. Stay tuned to see the result.

Devils Food Layer Cake
2/3 cup Crisco Shortening
1½ cups Sugar
3 Eggs
2½ oz Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
2¼ cups Softasilk Cake Flour (or 2-1/8 cups Flour), sifted
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1¼ cups Buttermilk
Buttermilk Substitute: Add a little over 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice to 1¼ cups milk

Grease and flour three 7-inch cake pans.
In a separate bowl mix Flour, Baking Soda and Salt. Set aside.
Cream Shortening and Sugar until fluffy Add Eggs. Add melted Chocolate.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with Buttermilk. Pour into cake pans.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
[This is the Popular Devils Food Cake recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook]

Favorite Buttercream Frosting
1 cup Butter (2 sticks), softened
5 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla
4-5 tbsp Milk

Beat butter for 8-10 minutes until pale and double in volume.
Gradually add the sugar ½ cup at a time beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and milk. Beat well until icing is smooth and fluffy.

Butter after whipping for 10 minutes

Separate frosting into two bowls.
Keep half the frosting white. No need to add white food coloring.
Color half of the frosting pink with AmeriColor Deep Pink. 

Assemble the cake and frost each layer with white icing.
Optional: Crumb coat the top and sides of cake with white frosting. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Frost the outside of the cake starting with white frosting along the bottom half of the cake.
Frost the remaining side and top of cake with pink frosting.
Pipe flowers with Wilton 1M tip in pink frosting.




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